Swallows survive relegation and remain in PSL

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Swallows players celebrate with goal-scorer Yagan Sasman during the team’s win over AmaTuks in their PSL promotion play-off at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Swallows players celebrate with goal-scorer Yagan Sasman during the team’s win over AmaTuks in their PSL promotion play-off at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

SPORT


Swallows FC survived the ignominy of suffering a fifth relegation in seven years after they scraped past the University of Pretoria with a 1-0 win to retain their premiership status.

Ten Premiership clubs have tried and failed in the 17-year history of the PSL promotion/relegation play-offs, and Swallows knew best those woods because the Birds were previously among this list.

But they bucked that trend at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday when defender Yagan Sasman scored the decisive goal in the 61st minute to save the club’s lucrative top-flight status.

Sasman’s cool left-footed finish will not be forgotten by his family, team-mates and coaches anytime soon because this strike means there will be no drastic salary cuts that come with relegation. This is a harsh reality which the class of 2015 experienced after Swallows fell short in the play-offs.

There is a contentious discourse in South African football regarding whether this country is a football-mad nation or not. Those who say South Africa is not a football nation are winning the debate.

Anyone who argues to the contrary can be directed to any regular premiership match.

Driving into Atteridgeville, Pretoria, on Wednesday, one got a sense that there was a funeral at the stadium, not a vital PSL promotion/relegation play-off. Those living around Lucas Moripe Stadium and in the township went about their business as if there was not a high-stakes encounter taking place close by.

Inside, the attendance was just as disappointing.

Once referee Thando Ndzandzeka blew the whistle to get the match under way, Swallows enjoyed the most goal mouth action, but were let down by their wayward finishing.

After a barren first half, the Birds continued with their probing football while AmaTuks hoofed the ball forward and hoped for the best.

Needing a draw to replace Swallows in the premiership, the university outfit never got out of its blocks and was subdued by the magnitude of what was at stake.

For Swallows, the win is historic. Once counted as one of the Soweto giants, alongside Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, the club founded in 1947 was relegated from the premiership in the 2014/15 season.

READ: AmaTuks smelling promotion, Swallows face relegation

Things got tricky after it suffered another relegation from the NFD the following season and plunged to the amateur ranks of the ABC Motsepe league. And from bad to worse when again when the club was relegated for the fourth time, this time to the fourth tier of South African football.

But it bought the NFD status of Maccabi FC and subsequently clinched premiership promotion after just one season back in the PSL ranks.

Swallows coach Dylan Kerr is a magician, some would say.

READ: Kerr fancies a tattoo if Birds escape drop

He has carved out a reputation for saving teams from the jaws of relegation, having done so with Black Leopards and Baroka in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

This time around, he has saved one of the oldest South African clubs, reviving the hopes of an outfit steeped in a rich history.


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